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Japanese Puppetry Returning To New Milford

Published: December 31, 2004

SHANNON HICKS

    Japanese Puppetry Returning To New Milford

    NEW MILFORD – Master Japanese puppeteer Masaya Kiritake will bring the ancient art of Otome-Bunraku puppetry to life for three performances at TheatreWorks New Milford the weekend of January 7-9.

    Masaya Kiritake comes to New Milford from Osaka, Japan, a city which for centuries has been home to one of the world’s most refined forms of puppetry: Bunraku. The Bunraku style of puppetry evolved during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868) and is one of the only puppetry forms in the world to have been designed specifically for adult audiences. Nearly wiped out as an art form during World War II due to the loss of both puppets and programs, Bunraku is today treasured as a precious, historical performing art.

    “It’s an art form that captures the mood and elegant beauty of traditional Japanese aesthetics,” said producer Robyn Greenstone. “Watching an Otome-Bunraku performance is like seeing a haiku poem suspended on stage. We are truly fortunate that Kiritake-san honors the TheatreWorks stage with her magic.”

    Bunraku involves three aspects of theatre: narrative storytelling, shamisen (a three-string instrument) musical accompaniment, and the manipulation of complex half- to three-quarters life-size puppets whose wrists, fingers and facial expressions move with the precise flick of a toggle.

    “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the Otome-Bunraku puppets back,” said TheatreWorks president Richard Pettibone.

    “The presentation last year played to packed houses and we had to turn many folks away,” he contiued. “This will be the last opportunity to see this fascinating art form before Kiritake-san heads back home to Japan.”

    “Unlike ancient fine arts, ancient performing arts rely on the dedication and discipline of artists to not only maintain and perform their art, but to train future generations of artists in an art that requires a lifetime of dedication to master,” said TheatreWorks artistic director Bill Hughes.

    Masaya Kiritake will perform at TheatreWorks on Friday and Saturday, January 7 and 8, at 8 pm, and on Sunday, January 9, at 2 pm. Tickets for all shows are $15 for general admission.

    Reservations can be made online at www.Theatre  Works.us or by calling the box office at 860-350-6863.

    TheatreWorks is an award-winning, regional theatre company located on 5 Brookside Avenue, just off Route 202 (next to M&B’s IGA), in New Milford